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YMCA board members retire after years of service

December 07, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- John R. "Jack" Hershey Jr., Phil Rohrer and John Waltersdorf might have stepped down from the Hagerstown YMCA's board of trustees, but that doesn't mean they won't be available to lend a hand when called upon.

"They're not totally retiring. They're just getting retitled," Hagerstown YMCA Executive Director Mike Flicek said.

"I don't know how we're going to get along without them, but they promised to come to meetings," said Paula Lampton, who recently was elected chairwoman of the Hagerstown YMCA Board of Trustees.

The men were honored in late October at the YMCA's Annual Heritage Club Dinner at Fountain Head Country Club. Each has memories of YMCA involvement as a youth, as well as during years of service.

All three were involved with the building of the new Eastern Boulevard facility, Flicek said.

The Hagerstown YMCA Board of Trustees manages the endowment funds and serves as an advisory committee to the board president and executive director. Some of those funds help children and families whose financial situations might prevent them from participating in YMCA activities.

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Last year, 1,200 people were helped 100 percent or in part through the Y's fundraising efforts.

Hershey, 84, has vivid memories of going to weeklong overnight camps at Camp Sinoquipe near Fort Littleton, Pa., through the YMCA in the late 1930s.

He calculated he has 63 years of membership and volunteer management service at the Hagerstown YMCA. He was on the Hagerstown YMCA's Board of Directors from 1963 to 1975, serving as president for his last three years, then served on the board of trustees from 1975 to 2009.

It was in the late '60s that fundraising for the new gym and swimming pool at the downtown YMCA were undertaken, Hershey said.

Hershey worked for several brokerage firms, retiring from Ferris Baker Watts, now RBC Wealth, in 1998.

He admits to slowing down in the last 15 years, but used to play handball, racquetball, basketball, run the indoor track at the downtown location and lift weights. Hershey said he still plays tennis, golfs and walks.

Rohrer, 77, said he's been connected to the Hagerstown YMCA for 66 years. It was back in 1943, when he was 11 years old, that his father's employer, Fairchild Aircraft, bought many memberships for employees and their families.

His family received one of those memberships, beginning an almost lifelong influence on Rohrer. He said he went to Y camp at Camp Peniel, a Brethren camp in Thurmont, Md., now Catoctin Mountain Park.

As a member of Boy Scout Troop 10 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown, Rohrer said after their Friday Scout meetings the boys went to the YMCA for dances. Other happy childhood memories include time spent in the Y's canteen and bowling alley.

The men agreed it was the blend of social opportunities, Christian values and focus on fitness that drew them to the YMCA.

Both Hershey and Rohrer said they were in the High Y Club and got involved when asked to be part of the youth club. During his 46-year-career with Hagerstown Trust, Rohrer said, he'd start running on the YMCA track at 6 a.m. and be at the bank by 7 a.m.

"My exercise is on the golf course now. The Y instilled that in you," Rohrer said of his active lifestyle.

Rohrer served on the YMCA Board of Directors from 1968 to 1990, with a term as president from 1984 to 1987. He joined the Board of Trustees in 1990.

During his presidency, the Heritage Club Foundation was started and the downtown facility was remodeled.

"It's been a long, happy experience. I've certainly not given up my interest in the Y," Rohrer said.

Waltersdorf, 83, describes himself as the "outlander," having been born and raised in Washington, Pa. His YMCA summer camp experience was at a camp along the Youghiogheny River.

Waltersdorf joined the board of trustees in 1998 and served until retiring this year.

Some days, Waltersdorf finds himself back in the water, taking the senior arthritis program when he feels up to it. He marvels at the wide range of programs available for all ages, adding that his children and grandchildren have taken swim lessons through the YMCA, just as he did.

Waltersdorf moved to Hagerstown almost 50 years ago and was president and CEO of TriState Electrical Supply. He said his involvement was primarily initiated by his children, because he felt the Y offered programs that were important in their physical development.

"There is no other organization in the community that services the whole family," Waltersdorf said.

For all three men, commitment to community has meant a seemingly endless list of leadership positions in local service organizations.

"We all contribute our time and talent to society. Home, work, social contributions -- they're all equal if handled fit and properly," Hershey said.

Gregory Snook, president of the Hagerstown YMCA board, said he admires the men's efforts.

"The picture of the Y is multi-generational. People want to give back to the community," Snook Web. "They planted the seed. That's what these guys did. It comes from the heart."

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